Baby name consultant: Name for a little Austrian lady

I have really loved connecting with parents from all over the world over our shared interest in names of our faith, so I’m excited to post today’s consultation, from Sabrina in Austria! She and her husband are expecting their third baby, a little girl, though when she first wrote to me they hadn’t yet found out the gender (hence the references to boy names they’d considered, which I’ve left in for inspiration).

This baby will join older siblings:

Parsifal Hubertus

Which I just love! Sabrina writes,

Our first son is called Parsifal – the germanized version of Perceval. As you might have guessed, we weren’t really practising [our faith] back then, so the second name is Hubertus, however we don’t have a huge culture of using middle names here though. Our daughter is called Aurelia. As you see, the names are quite uncommon, so we need one that fits in with them as well, Peter or Paul just won’t do it 😉 For a boy, we already considered Vito. I sort of like the name and concerning the degree of rareness it would fit, but I was told it would not fit to the style of the two others. There’s also still the consideration of calling him Richard, after my husband’s grandfather, however this would not quite fit in with the rareness.

For a girl, I’d absolutely adore Vivien (or any variation thereof), but my husband doesn’t like it too much. Genevieve would be great and going along with Parsifal well, but it is a tad too un-German to pronounce. My husband likes Agatha, but I think it’s the epitome of an old lady’s name. I’d also like Seraphina if it wasn’t too close to my own name. Also, it would be nice to avoid the too common ones, you can find a current list of them here.

I browsed the lines of our monarchy’s ancestry after reading about our princess, and while the men had all sorts of beautiful names (the more common ones being Franz, Josef, Karl and such), nearly everyone of the women was named Maria, Anna or Theresia. Isn’t that weird?

What we also considered – it would be a bold move and a break with our principle to not use genuine double names, but I really like the idea and my husband does too – was Stella Maris. Stella is a known name here, pretty uncommon but not unheard of, and it would be such a beautiful attribution to the Holy Virgin.

… around here, we can’t just go on and name our kids however we want (like that “Saint” post you posted), the magistrate decides whether it is actually a name and will approve of it. A friend of mine wanted to name her daughter Amalaswintha, after a gothic princess, but they declined and so they had to choose Amalia. Also they nearly declined even our Parsifal, however, they found one or two bearing that name in Germany. 🙂 “

I had fun working on this! I always love delving into names that are more unusual. That said, however, I only know what’s considered unusual for Americans, so I apologized in advance to Sabrina if some of my suggestions were too popular for her, or were names that Austrians would consider unattractive. I was fascinated by the lists of the most popular names she linked to—names like Maximilian, Tobias, Felix, Elias, Fabian, Sebastian, Florian, Valentina, and Magdalena are all the kinds of names I normally would have suggested to a parent with children named Parsifal and Aurelia. I love learning about differences between countries and cultures, and names provide such a fun way to do so!

Okay, these are my thoughts about their ideas:
— Vivian: I love it too! Vivian and Vivienne have been fairly popular here recently, along with other V-heavy names like Evelyn/Evelina, Evangeline, and Genevieve (see below). Vivian derives, as far as I can tell, from Latin vivus meaning “alive,” and Vito, which they’d considered for a boy, is from vitus meaning “life,” so that’s an extra connection Sabrina and her husband might appreciate. Or maybe they’d consider Vita? I quite like Vita! I think it would work really well as a sister to Parsifal and Aurelia.

— Genevieve: A gorgeous name! It’s a recent favorite among several of the Catholic families I know, and a name that’s often loved by those who also like Vivian/Vivienne! A name that’s similar in appearance and length and is more uncommon (at least here) is Guinevere. There’s a St. Winifred of Wales who’s also known as St. Guinevere.

— Agatha: Here, too, Agatha is firmly still an old lady name, though I do think it’s going to coming back into a certain popularity, on the heels of new revivals Alice and Agnes. I do think the nickname Aggie is cute!

— Seraphina: Yes, I love Seraphina too. It’s similar in style to Genevieve and Vivienne — Sabrina has very consistent (and lovely!) taste! But I can see that it might be bothersome to have mom Sabrina and daughter Seraphina.

Those are my thoughts on their current ideas, and of course I came up with some other ones for them as well. As you all know, I always rely pretty heavily on the Baby Name Wizard book when doing a consultation, and its list of “Exotic Traditional” names seemed just the right style for Sabrina and her husband. Using that list, and some other ideas, I have these suggestions:

(1) Veronica or Veronika
I think Veronica/Veronika would fit in nicely with Parsifal and Aurelia! I love that it’s long and sophisticated; it’s got that great V like Genevieve and Vivian; and it’s a great Catholic name!

(2) Anastasia
Sadly, this gorgeous name has been ruined for American Catholic parents for a while, because of the novel series Fifty Shades of Grey. But if it doesn’t have that association in Austria, I would love to see it used! Anastasia is so pretty and saintly, with the amazing meaning of “resurrection,” which is so great for a baby born near Easter. I don’t know if it would bother Sabrina and her hubs to have two A names, but I think Aurelia and Anastasia are different enough that it wouldn’t be a problem.

(3) Philomena or Filomena
Philomena/Filomena is uncommon and exclusively Catholic here (even though it seems St. Philomena is no longer a Saint; the meaning of the name is beautiful anyway. I’ll be doing a spotlight on it soon — stay tuned!), and I love that I think all of these nickname options could work: Fia, Fila, Fina, Finn, Finna, Lola, Mena, Minnie, Pia, Pim, Pina, and Pippa.

(4) Eleanor, Eleanora, Leonora, Lenora
One of my favorite features of the Baby Name Wizard book is that it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in style/feel/popularity (in America). I looked up all the names that Sabrina and her husband have used and like, and looked for any names that were similar to more than one of their favorite names, and Eleanor and variants were a big hit for them! Lenora was listed as similar to Percy (the entry most similar to Parsifal/Perceval); Eleanor is similar to Genevieve and Vivian; Eleanora is similar to Aurelia; and Leonora is similar to Agatha. To me, that’s pretty overwhelming evidence that they might like one of these names! Are they rare enough for Austria?

(5) Raphaela
Raphaela is a style match for Seraphina, and I really like that it refers to St. Raphael, who is one of the archangels, and Seraphina refers to the seraphim. Nice connection! Beautiful name.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What would you suggest to Sabrina and her husband for Parsifal and Aurelia’s little sister? If any of you have knowledge of naming trends in Austria, I’d love to hear what you think of the suggestions here!



60 thoughts on “Baby name consultant: Name for a little Austrian lady

  1. I love the German forms of Elisabeth, such as Liesl, but that may be too “Sound of Music” for Sabrina’s taste. 🙂 (Although Louisa, Marta, and Gretel are also fantastic names!)

    What about Anneliese as a variant?

    Liked by 2 people

    • The real von Trapp children were named Rupert, Agathe, Maria, Werner, Hedwig, Johanna, and Martina. Later, Baron von Trapp & Maria had three more children, Rosemarie, Eleonore, and Johannes. (I was SO obsessed with the von Trapp family in my tween years. The Sound of Music is still definitely my favorite movie. I was able to take two of my children to see it in the theater last year and it was the experience of a lifetime!!!)

      Liked by 1 person

    • Speaking of JoAnna’s mention of Elisabeth variants, it reminds me that Elizabeth is a name I don’t see getting a lot of love. Ubiquitous as a middle name and of course the most nicknamed name EVER, I just don’t know all that many of them my age or younger. Yes, there are some—I’ve always known a Beth or a Liz here and there—and my own daughter notwithstanding, where’s the Elizabeth love?! In fact, Elizabeth gets so little attention, I actually felt it wasn’t a “Catholic-enough” name when she was little!

      Maybe lovely Elizabeth and her many variants deserves a spotlight sometime, Kate!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is so fun! I wish I knew more about naming traditions in other countries so I could be more helpful. So many of the names you suggested are beautiful. I’m firmly in the Agatha camp. I think Aggie is so sweet. If only my husband agreed..

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I love Kate’s suggestions, especially Anastasia and Veronica (two of my favorites!).
    What about Regina? I am not sure about its popularity in Austria, but it is such a elegant and stately name and such a lovely tribute to our lady.
    I think it is a great match for Parsifel and Aurelia, it gives you the Arthurian feel without the actual Arthurian connection of Guinevere.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’ve never met a little Agnes, but a friend from college named her daughter Agatha three years ago! Maybe it’s falling off the old lady radar a bit! (Here, anyway.)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Long time lurker; think I’ll become a regular commenter now 😉 beautiful blog! I also feel like I should qualify myself and introduce myself as Sabrina from Singapore hahah. And I thought Parsifal was named after the Wagner opera. Oops.

    German names fascinate me because they will never be pronounced correctly in Asia! My favorite German name ever is Katja, which can be considered Catholicly given that it is a form of Katharina but not on the top 20 list. And Catherine of Alexandria or Siena (brave or smart????) as patrons? I was pretty much sold.

    Looked up the meanings of Parsifal (to pierce the valley) and Aurelia (golden). Perhaps you want to continue naming along a similar theme? I feel like since big bro and sis have strong bold meanings baby sis with a softer or gentler name meaning might be out of place. (Let me put it out there that I have no experience naming humans. Only hamsters). Along this theme, I like Clotilde, after St. Clotilde, and her name roughly translates to heroine, Laura (laurel wreath – winner – synonymous with gold medallists now – similar meaning to Aurelia – unfortunately in the top 20), Petronilla (rock, and a much fancier version of Peter lol). I do like Kerstin too.

    I LOVE Veronica, much prefer Berenice (Latin and Greek) though, and Anastasia is SO pretty too. I don’t get how parents just choose one name for their babies, I believe I’ll be tempted to name any of mine after the Litany of Saints. Congratulations Sabrina!

    Liked by 5 people

  6. I love this family’s romantic choice of names. I’m tempted to bring up all sorts of grand names from ancient history that were absorbed by Christianity, but it might be too much? All of the suggestions are great ideas, but as I speak a fair amount of German, some of them don’t work well in the language. As for Anastasia, I’d be surprised if it is ruined in Austria, because it’s always been a popular name in Slavic cultures, which Austria shares a border and a lot of history with. At the same time, that means it’s not an exotic and aristocratic name in Austria, the way their other children’s names are. Let me get into one of the names they love, but doesn’t work in German, Genevieve.

    Genevieve’s (patron saint of Paris) origins are obscure, but many believe it actually has some German roots as Genowyfa, geno (Greek for kin, origin, as in ‘genetics’) and wyfa (old German for woman, it’s where ‘wife’ comes from). Alternately, I’ve also read that the name was originally Genoveva, Spanish for ‘white wave’ or ‘white, smooth, and soft”. It’s definitely an enigmatic name! Fun fact: Jennifer Aniston’s Greek baptismal name is Genovefa (Γενοβέφα). It’s kind of clunky both in spelling and implied pronounciation, but there are some elegant versions or alternate spellings of Genovefa/veva that could work in German: I do love the idea of Jenoveva, pronounced Yeh-no-VEE-vah in German. Or Jenovera. There is a touch of Vivian and Seraphina to it, in my mind. And I believe the Austrian magistrate would accept it.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. How interesting this all is…I have to say Raphaela really struck such a fun appreciation for me…such lovely suggestions…
    Such a different process than we are used to in our America…I was not aware…

    Liked by 2 people

  8. This is so great! A German-speaking family looking for a name here makes my heart soar. I wish I had more unusual suggestions for them, but I have difficulty coming up with non-typical names that wouldn’t get mangled by the baby’s teachers…

    Filomena might be nice… “Mena” is a very sweet, very pronouncable nickname.

    My mind also harps upon Perpetua, but my tongue trips over a Germanized version of this beautiful name (and great saint)!

    Since it’s the Year of Mercy, Faustina would be another suggestion of mine. (Though “Faust” maybe be a very unwanted cultural obstacle.)

    Stella Maris, or Maristella are big big favorites of mine that would sound so beautiful alongside her siblings!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Oh right! I’d forgotten the German connection. I’d be interested in hearing from others whether that interferes with them considering the name Faustina — I’d never considered that before!


      • I’m not sure! I can’t make my tongue say it in German. I think it’s the soft “t” that throws everything off. Maybe Perpetja… What a conundrum!


      • Also, on the Faust note, I know it’s an obstacle that I have, and the immediate association that came to my mind the first time I heard this otherwise lovely name. Maybe it’s my cultural background coupled with my operatic training that makes the sound “Faust” so strong to me. I know that in Germany, high schoolers study Goethe pretty extensively (as we study Shakespeare), so I would be worried that the name would have that association among peers/fellow parents.


  9. The first name that came to mind for me was Franziska, after Sabrina said she liked Emperor Franz Joseph’s name and with the Pope now being Francis. I find Ziska as a nickname adorable too. 🙂 It might be too popular for them at the moment though.

    I love Anneliese, I’d use it in a heartbeat, especially with the German pronunciation, but I’ve heard it’s considered old fashioned in German speaking countries at the moment, Sabrina might not mind that though. Veronika, Raphaela and Anastasia are gorgeous too, wonderful suggestions! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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